December 14, 2011


My parents got divorced somewhere between my 1st and 2nd birthday, so it was normal for me to grow up being shuttled between two households.  The two halves of the family were quite different and the Christmas experience had different traditions, even if parts were similar.

Both halves attended church on Christmas Eve (for the most part).  If we went to church with my Mother it would probably also be with my Grandmother and we'd attend some long, and boring, Christmas Mass in some large cathedral.  Church with my father would be at the small Mennonite Church with a cute children's play and a round of religious Christmas Carols sung with the congregation in a ring around the church holding candles used just this one night a year.

Santa was also different.  My Father remarried and had a daughter when I was 7 or 8, so "Santa" was around well into my teens.  I don't really remember Santa on my mother's side of the family, which was Catholic (various degrees of devoutness).  I do remember St. Nicholas. Occasionally, not every year, we'd put our shoes outside our bedroom doors on December 5th and depending on how good we were we might get some small treats.

Now my Maternal Grandmother was half-German and half-Austrian....basically her father grew up on one side of the creek (they called it a river) and her mother the other side.  St. Nicholas was huge for her growing up, but so was the tradition of Krampus.  I know I had heard of Krampus before when I was younger, but I had forgotten all about him.  I was reminded of his existence last week while I was reading the webcomic Player vs. Player.  From what I recall, Scott Kurtz's father was German immigrant, so I'm sure he grew up with St. Nicolas and Krampus.

When was the last time you heard a kid talking about getting a lump of coal in his Christmas Stocking?  It doesn't happen anymore.  Even if your precious snowflake has been a little brat all year, he is still getting a bunch of Christmas presents.  Santa's book of naughty and nice deeds only goes so far and really doesn't do much to coerce children to behave.  If the kid is a little helliant he might only get 9 presents this year instead of he'll even notice.

I say bring back Krampus!  Let the kiddies know early in December if they've been naughty little bastards.  Reward them with a small treat or have Krampus pay them a visit and scare them straight for a few weeks!  Instead of, at best, threatening to withhold some Christmas presents because they are on the "naughty list" of some mythical book, have this guy show up and rattle some chains, threatening to drag them off to work in some mine.

One visit from this guy and I'd be checking my bed to make sure the relatively benign monster under there hasn't moved out.  I'd lay awake at night figuring out how I could be a little extra good for a few days...well at least tomorrow.

OK, I get that you might not want to upset your precious snowflake and you think that even threatening to give him a lump of coal (where do you buy one anyway) would be too traumatic.  Besides, you don't want to spoil all of your holiday fun shopping like crazy to spoil his ass rotten so he can have all the gadgets and toys you wish existed when you were a kid.  How about we compromise a bit.  Instead of getting your toddler his first iPad, or your 13 year old an Xbox 360 to go with his PS3, why don't we kick it back a notch?  Maybe we can adopt a local family that is struggling this time of year and help them out.  Those Giving Tree requests usually are cheap toys and clothes.  Some kids would actually be delighted to get socks and underwear for Christmas.

There is always the Toys for Tots program too.

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